South Korea: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country South Korea.


South Korea

Size--38,022 sq. mi. (98,477 sq. km.).

Population--35 million: almost 100% Korean with a few Chinese and others. Buddhist, 12.2%, Confucian, 10.9%, Protestant, 10%, Roman Catholic, 2.2%, Ch'ordogyoist, 2%, Wonbulgyoist, 2%.

Who Rules--In 1960 student-led protests brought down the dictatorial regime of the Republic of Korea's 1st President, Syngman Rhee. The democratic regime that followed did not last long. In 1961 Gen. Park Chung Hee (also spelled Pak Jung Hi) seized power. His U.S. supporters insisted on civilian government, so he staged elections to make himself President. In 1972 he declared martial law and forced the adoption of a new constitution continuing his rule.

Who REALLY Rules--Park's rule is enforced by the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), but the military is supreme. Dissatisfied military leaders forced Park to dismiss the KCIA director in 1973.

The Park regime, both militarily and economically, is dependent upon external support. The U.S. and Japan, with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund, control the economy, while the U.S. actually has operational control of the military. The U.S. probably could replace Park, and it may be unhappy with his despotism, but it has no desirable alternative.

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